tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC December 15, 2011 4:00pm-5:00pm PST
straps when yove already taken their boots. next time you get ready to write an article, white the blueberry off your face before you pick up the pen. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. no joy in mudville. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, the big pushback. if mitt romney can't knock newt out, the republican establishment has decided it will do it for him. a conservative who's who, including george f. will, michael gerson, david brooks, and today the "national review" itself among others are essentially sticking their heads out of the window and screaming, i'm scared as hell and i'm not going to take this anymore. can they stop newt? that's our top story. can they stop newt? plus, who knew?
w.h.o. is the 50,000 watt station that dominates iowa and the host to see if you want to win the republican nomination is simon conway. tonight we'll simulcast with him. we'll be on his show and he'll be on hours. and find out what voters are really thinking in iowa. also, two days ago, we gave you the obama campaign's many projected paths to victory. well, tonight, what state does the republican nominee have to take back from obama to win the white house? we'll ask the "hardball" strategists. and the american war in iraq is officially over. after nine years, 4,500 american lives, and thousands of wounded, was it worth it? and let me finish with my thoughts on whether the republican big shots can stop the stampede toward newt. we begin with the republican establishment and their struggle to not have newt on the ticket. nbc's david gregory is moderator of "meet the press." and howard fineman is the
editorial director at "the huffington post" and an msnbc political analyst. let's take a look at that question, with you two gentleman. here we are going into a big weekend. it's the first weekend where it really looks like newt is going to be the front-runner, going through -- right to january 3rd. and all of a sudden we're hearing from all across the board, especially the intellectuals, like peggy noonan and kathleen -- kathleen parker. a lot of them are starting to write up now, oh, my god, oh, my god, in the modern lexicon, this guy, newt, might win the nomination. >> well, i think there's a sense, yes, that he'd do that, he'd be bad for the party. if you look at our poll, the nbc news/washington journal poll, it gets republicans to focus here on the fact, can he really beat obama? and don't forget, the anti-obama vibe, that sentiment is really what's driving republicans more
than anything else. they want to beat obama, who best can do that? there's a sense that newt gingrich has this ceiling, it's dangerous to a lot of establishment republicans. >> but yet, this is part of my close tonight, my question, how can they close that stampede down, having started it? because the leaders, the writers, the columnists, the big talkers in the party have been really saying how much they dislike obama. they have fed that en masse where they've picked a candidate who now shares that, newt gingrich? >> who shares it, yes, but i talked to a republican today who said that bain capital against romney is indicative of two problems that gingrich has. that, one, he will issue the sharp rejoinder without thinking about the consequence. because the consequence here is that it was a real broadside against free market capitalism. >> which is the broadside being, you give back all the money you make from the chop shop you ran, the equity chop shop, of cutting up companies and throwing people out of work, which is what the republicans want the freedom to do. >> but one thing we have to be careful about. i don't think the establishment is speaking with one voice.
and republicans say, if it ever gets too centralized, it only helps gingrich. it does not help romney if the "establishment" does it. romney has got to step up. and i think we're starting to see in the polls, that it's starting to have -- >> let me read one of these for howard. you get in here, generally, before i give you more material to work with, generally, do you think the establishment is out to get romney? >> it's not like the old days. the establishment is not a unified entity. and to the extent that there is an establishment that descends from ronald reagan and george bush, father and son, it's largely behind romney. >> yeah. >> has been behind romney, and that's the problem. romney can't -- romney has a ceiling also. but talking to one of the biggest fund-raisers in the republican party earlier today, a centrist, as much as an establishment guy as there is, he says, yes, we will try to stop newt gingrich at all costs, even if romney fails, but the
problem is, if gingrich wins the first bunch of primaries, we're not going to be able to do it. that's why all the money is being spent now. that's why in iowa, newt gingrich is undergoing a carpet bombing from sioux city to dubuque, and his numbers are falling a little bit. >> but bear in mind, the calendar -- >> they're falling a little bit? >> according to some polls. the rasmussen poll and the ppp poll, one sort of more leaning towards the republicans, one more democrat, both show newt losing a little altitude in iowa. he's taking a tremendous pounding out there, both officially from candidates and unofficially from -- >> let's read some of the editorial opinions. here's a scathing editorial of the "national review," the old conservative magazine. the editors write, "gingrich has always said he wants to transform the country. he appears unable to transform or even govern himself. he should be an adviser to the republican party, but not again its head.
at the moment we think it's important to urge republicans to have the good sense to reject a hasty marriage to gingrich, which would risk dissolving in acrimony." see, they're afraid of the internal newt. not how he'll sell, but whether he'll just erupt again. you talked about the example of him, someone said the other day, when he's challenged or he feels he's being upstaged, look out, he'll grab whatever's handy and throw it at the component. >> remember, pat jermon long ago used to say, this candidate lives off the land. he sees something on the ground in front of him, he hears his opponent say something, and he uses nit that moment. i'm not even sure barack obama has that skill, to use something learned in the course of that debate to use in that debate. >> and back in maine, he got in trouble about paul ryan's plan. what he said in the course of that interview, what he acknowledged, it was his lack of discipline that was a problem. his ability to think and talk more like a professor than a presidential candidate that gets him into trouble. one other point about the
calendar, february, february is what could stop newt in his tacks, if he's doing so well. the way the calendar rolls out on the primaries. >> partly because there's part of a dead zone. what's happening with all of the primaries being moved up from february to january, now there's a little bit of a dead zone there in february. and if newt is the guy, then everybody's going to go after him for an uninterrupted period of time, which he can't really necessarily answer with primary victories, if he's going to have them. a couple things about him, though. he can see around corners. it's not just that he lives off the land. he does have a strategic mind. he attacked paul ryan for social engineering. the fact is paul ryan now is offering a different plan. he's now, in effect, confirming what newt said. newt's problem is that the people who know him best, who work with him when he was in the congress, who worked with him on drafting the contract with america, most of those people are not with him. why are they not with him? why are they not with him? >> a real conservative, peggy noonan, who wrote for president
reagan and writes beautifully in "the wall street journal" every saturday, that's the fact i read it on saturday is her, "what is striking is the extraordinary divide in opinion between those who know gingrich and those who don't. those who do are mostly not for him, and they were burning up the phone lines this week in washington. those who know him fear or hope that he will be true to form in one respect. he will continue to the lose to his number one longtime foe, newt gingrich. he's a human hand grenade who walks around with his hand on the pin, saying, watch this!" that's pretty striking. and in "the washington post" last week, columnist kathleen parker wrote, "no one other than calista gingrich thinks her husband can prevail in a general election. no one. the consensus on gingrich is so overwhelming that conventional wisdom has taken a holiday. that is that no one in washington thinks he can win, and washington is where gingrich is known best. instead of rallying to support
him, former colleagues are going out of their way to politely say, he can't lead." howard, speak for that. because it seems to me that writers like you, you're in the middle. you're a straight reporter, but the writers on the right, who are the best of the writers, those two women, especially, openly saying, beware of this guy. those who know him think he's a disaster. >> well, that's true, except for the fact that washington conventional wisdom is almost always wrong. >> but when it's about itself. this isn't about thinking big, this is about remembering personal behavior. >> that's true. and when you talk to person after person who is in the leadership, in the congress when newt was speaker, they all say, we would agree on a policy and a plan for the weekend, then we'd go out home, and newt would be go back to georgia and say something completely different. newt would have all these great plans to do something and he wouldn't follow through. newt would undercut people around him. newt was not reliable. newt couldn't get things done. but, you know, the other point i would make is, though, that people are in such a foul mood
about the congress and about washington and about the insiders that the republican establishment better be careful. and david made this point also. that if it looks like newt is the only alternative to business as usual, newt could still win. >> that's how he won the first time. >> exactly. exactly. >> people like lynn martin, moderate republicans from illinois said, rather than lose again, we'll go with him. i want you to comment on this. this is really pitchfork fighting. here's ron paul going after gingrich getting all those deferments from the military back in the '60s. now, when you go after people's military deferments, this is in the gut. let's listen to this. >> he's probably as aggressive with the military as anybody. he support always the wars in the middle east, a thousand times more than i would. but, you know, when -- in the 1960s, when i was drafted, you know, into the military, he got several deferments. he chose not to go. now he'll send our kids to war, but at that time, he said that one person wouldn't make a difference. he didn't know how he could make a difference.
so i see that as important information, people show know that, and it reflects on him. >> that rips the scab off, doesn't it? you go after a guy's personal lack of courage in backing the very wars he likes to support. >> but it's also, it's taking gingrich on a flank, this anti-government flank, because it's not just like liberal anti-war views, it's real liberal anti-war, it's like, we're broke. >> it's isolationism. >> yeah. i think what's gotten underreported, remember we talked about the nuclear weapon, if we survive iran, a nuclear iran, if we survive, people like rick santorum will be, you know, held in high esteem. it's pretty apocalyptic when he talks about the prospect of some of the things -- >> but i do think looking at the numbers on iraq, as many people celebrate the end of the war in iraq, there's a tremendous sense of buyer's remorse about that. it's a different kind of strategic threat, a nuclear weapon in the hands of an ahmadinejad is different than fearing a regional threat from a pain in the butt like saddam hussein, right?
>> yes. >> that's what i think. anyway, thank you, david gregory. good luck on sunday. it's coming up fast. "meet the press." howard fineman, as always. coming up, let's find out what voters in iowa are thinking just 19 days from the caucuses. sounds like we're fighting in russia, the caucuses. when we return, we'll simulcast on w.h.o. radio and talk to talk show host simon conway. he sounds like somebody on "american idol." simon conway, whose show has become an essential stop for the republicans who want to be president out in iowa. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] every day thousands of people are choosing advil®. here's one story. pain doesn't have much of a place in my life. i checked the schedule and it's not on it. [ laughs ] you never know when advil® is needed. well most people only know one side of my life. they see me on stage and they think that that is who i am. there's many layers to everybody everywhere.
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welcome back to "hardball." with 19 days until the iowa caucuses, the republican presidential candidates will hold their last scheduled debate tonight before the voting begins now on january 3rd. the latest hawkeye poll, by the way, from the university of iowa has newt gingrich leading in the state of iowa with 29.8% of the vote with mitt romney at 20, ron paul just over 10, but the poll may show that support for gingrich is beginning to dissipate. a university of iowa pollster told reuters, "gingrich has spent little time in iowa. while gingrich is polling well, his minimal staff and grassroots organization in iowa suggests he may be unable to turn out supporters on january 3rd to the same degree as the others."
well, simon conway is an iowa radio talk show host who has spoken to each of the republican presidential candidates, except mitt romney and jon huntsman, who's not competing in iowa. simon, thank you so much for coming on and doing this simulcast. i see you at the mic there. what's it smell like to you out there? what's the sense? if i'd ask you to do a little peration now on which way it's going, what is it? >> first of all, it's always a pleasure to welcome a democrat to the simon conway show. >> are we all giving our party labels o out here? are you giving me yours or what? you want to give me one but don't give yourself one. >> chris, i'm not a republican, never have been and never will be. >> so you give out labels, but you don't assign one to yourself. that's very clever. >> well, there isn't one. i just want to make sure we're starting with some honesty. your clearly working for the re-election of barack obama -- >> i want to make sure -- >> -- and that's okay. >> this isn't going to go very long here if you're going into this game of assigning -- what's your political voting record? how'd you go last time?
>> i've only voted once, and i voted for john mccain while holding my nose. >> you voted republican. that's how we should identify you, sir, based on your record. >> if you want to do that. >> you're doing it to me. so -- >> chris, it's untrue, but you can go ahead and do it. i just want to be clear that we're going to be honest, you're clearly working for the re-election of barack obama, and i'm okay with that. i just want some honesty here. >> what are you working for, sir? >> i'm working for the election of a conservative. >> and who would that be? >> well, we don't have an individual yet. we've still got an open field, and it's very interesting, and certainly iowa is not, is not done yet. i think we've got plenty of time, i think we can still see this race change. >> and of the conservatives in the field right now, which ones do you think are the most conservative, the best by your own standards? >> the most -- well, the most conservative -- i think the most conservatives are quite clear. you've got michele bachmann, you've got rick santorum, you've
got governor rick perry. i think they're all very, very conservative. >> and which of them do you think would be the most prepared to be a good president for the country? >> i think they could all be very good presidents for the country, chris. i don't endorse anybody on my own show, i'm not going to endorse anybody on yours. >> but who do you like -- let's look at field now as you listen to your listeners out there. what do you think is the best fit, of the iowa culture you've begun to learn about in the years you've lived out there, which of the candidates seem to be the best fit, if you were looking at the way the culture runs out there? the political culture right now, going into the caucuses on the 3rd of january? >> well, you know, chris, both the democrats and the republicans love iowa to be first in the nation, because it's a great size for lesser-known candidates with less money to get around a whole state. they don't have to spend some
money to burst through. a prime example of that is mike huckabee four years ago. he didn't have much money and suddenly burst on to the scene and he was able to do that in iowa. the democrats like it for exactly the same reason. and the second reason is there is such a diversity of opinion here, that you really have to appeal to all sides. so you've got people that are obviously very concerned about the economy. the economy is always going to be the number one issue in our elections. but here, on the conservative side, you certainly have people that are very interested in the social issues as well. i had rick santorum in my studio yesterday and i actually asked him if his campaign had made a mistake by focusing on the social issues, and he turned that right around on me and he said, look, social issues actually are about the economy. because if we don't take care of the family, then government is stepping in, and we're spending money to support single parents and so that's why social issues that are also about the economy. he made a very valid point, i thought. >> simon, let's take a crack at
the foreign policy issue. we're winding down the american war in iraq right now, hopefully. and i'm thinking about that war. and i'm thinking about a candidate like ron paul, who's very much against those kinds of foreign policy adventures in iraq or in iran. and then you have a much more hawkish person in newt gingrich, for example. who do you think would have the upper hand in that debate, tonight, for example, as we have another debate out there. the more hawkish or dovish position of mr. paul? >> i have absolutely no doubt at all that not just newt gingrich, but the other candidates on that stage are going to go after ron paul on that very issue. and actually, i'm on the record as the one candidate, i guess i've kind of ruled out myself personally, because although i love ron paul fiscally and i absolutely adore him fiscally, and if we'd have listened to him 30 years ago on that particular subject, we'd all be far better off, right now, i think, chris. but he does scare me when it comes to foreign policy. in fact, you've already played one of my videos on your show, when in this very studio, i asked him three times, and he said he would not have given the kill order for bin laden.
>> what about the war in iraq? do you think it's popular in iowa right now? the fact that we fought the war, beginning -- well, it's now 8 1/2 year's, we're winding it down, do you think that was a wise war in the eyes of the iowa voters? >> i think we're beyond that now. i think people are very glad we're coming home. i think a lot of people thought as soon as we took out bin laden, we should have come home from afghanistan as well. >> why do you think we went to war in iraq? >> i think we went to war in iraq, because as the president told us, because he believed, and i do believe that he believed, that they were a very serious threat. but right now i think the biggest threat to the world is iran. and we need to pay very close attention. and it's embarrassing when the president of the united states goes on tv and says, please, iran, can we have our plane back. >> so you think the war in iraq made sense? >> i think the war in iraq, based on the intelligence that they had, at the time, made
sense. >> well, do you support -- do you think it was a wise policy to go to war in iraq, to intervene in that country, to take it over? do you think that was a smart move? and do you think iowa agrees with you on that? >> i think it was a smart move at the time and iowa will agree or disagree and they'll let me know on my show as they do every single day, chris. i do think it was the right thing to do based on the intelligence that we had at time, yes. >> do you think -- >> -- pay close attention to iran. >> what role should we play with iran? >> what role -- we absolutely should support our closest friend, probably in the world, which is israel. we need to support our ally. we need to stop attacking our ally. we actually need to move our embassy to jerusalem, which is a travesty that we don't recognize that we should have an embassy in jerusalem. we need to do that, we need to support our ally, we need to recognize how dangerous iran actually is if they get a nuke. and i think we're probably doing
some covert things. there has been some pretty interesting satellite imagery. i think we're probably partially responsible for that satellite imagery showing blown-up buildings. when president obama took out bin laden, i was on the air, i'd been here a week, and i made a decision to take this station live, and we stayed on the air live until midnight that night, because i had waited 2 1/2 years to say, well done, mr. president. and i was very pleased he did. but now we need to come home and focus on iran. >> how would you feel about newt gingrich as president of the united states? >> again, you are asking me to endorse or not endorse somebody. >> no, how do you feel? you said you wanted the most conservative candidate or a true conservative. how do you feel about newt gingrich? >> if newt gingrich ended up as the nominee, i could happily vote for newt gingrich. >> thank you very much, simon conway, on w.h.o. radio in des moines, iowa. >> thank you very much, chris. anytime! there you go. now that he's out of the presidential race, what cabinet position does herman cain want? his surprising answer next in the sideshow. you're watching "hardball," next, only on msnbc.
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back to "hardball." now for the sideshow. first up, game changer? think again. last night we report that mitt romney had won the endorsement of failed delaware senate candidate christine o'donnell. well, let's look at how "the colbert report" covered the tea party favorite's return to the national scene. >> boom! mitt romney is back in it! christine o'donnell's endorsement will cast a spell over primary voters. >> i'm not a witch. >> okay, i'm sorry, that's a bad metaphor. in fact, in fact this endorsement proves that she is not a witch, because a witch would have gone for the eye of newt. what about mitt brought o'donnell around to romney? >> he's changed his minds about big, important issues over the year. >> you know, that's one of the things that i like about him, because he's consistent since he changed his mind. >> how did she lose? >> romney's response, i'm
pleased to have her on my team. wow, next up, swept off her feet. nbc news journalist barbara walters recently released her annual list of the ten most fascinating people of the year, which included former presidential candidate herman cain. >> when they ask me who's the president of u-becky-becky-stan-stan, i'm going to say, i don't know. >> what kind of cabinet position would you like, if it were possible? >> we are speaking totally, totally hypothetical, right? >> yep. >> department of defense. >> what?! why department of defense. if you were secretary of defense, it would be important to be familiar with the various countries around the world, and you have had some difficulty with that, mr. cain. >> yes, but i have been doing my homework ever since that difficulty. >> he's been doing his homework. herman cain should manufacture a
pill, i think, that gives you his self-confidence. it would really sell. and finally, looks like someone neglected to think this one through. any visitor to the campaign website of newt gingrich, newt.org, can glance through a number of news articles plucked by the candidate's campaign team. well, obviously the ones that shed a positive light on newt. but how about this headline from cnbc news that recently joined the lineup. "a tale of three wives: life on the campaign trial." is that a reminder himself that gingrich himself is on his third marriage? why put that in the spotlight? well, not quite. the article is a piece on callista gingrich as well as the wives of two of his opponents, but still the headline points in a very different direction, don't you think? anyway, up next, the race to 270.
president obama has several projected paths to win the number of electoral votes he needs, and tonight we'll take a look at what the republican nominee, gingrich, romney or whoever needs to do to win. the "hardball" strategists join us next. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. ♪ i think i'm falling ♪ i think i'm falling [ male announcer ] this is your moment. ♪ for you [ male announcer ] this is zales, the diamond store. shop our largest diamond store online anytime at zales.com. lord of the carry-on. sovereign of the security line. you never take an upgrade for granted. and you rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle. and go. you can even take a full-size or above. and still pay the mid-size price. i deserve this. [ male announcer ] you do, business pro. you do. go national. go like a pro.
congress passed a defense bill and now goes to president obama gore a signature is. the bill authorizes funds for military personnel and weapons and other things. it freezes $700 million in aid to pakistan and imposes sanctions on iran's central bank. congressional is in agreement would allow the house and senate to avoid a shut down. the current funding and federal agencies expires tomorrow at midnight. hunger and homelessness is up in many cities due to the
rough economy. 86% of cities reported increases in request for food aid and homelessness had risen as well. the mayor expected the situation to improve in 2012. let's get you back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." after employing a strategy of laying low, mitt romney's now in trouble. newt gingrich has taken center stage. today, newt released a new ad in iowa that stays positive and criticizes others for attacks -- well, you know he's talking about mitt. and looking ahead to november 2012, karl rove today outlined his projected path to victory for the republicans. it's a single path as opposed to the obama team's multiple paths to winning 20 electoral votes.
we'll break it down for you. so those are the topics our strategists will tackle tonight. number one, how does romney win the nomination? he seems to be losing right now. and number two, how does the republican party, generally the candidate, have a viable path to victory in the general? steve mcmahon is a democratic strategist. todd harris is a republican strategiest. thank you both. i ask you to do the gymnastics here. mitt romney seems to have lost his mow joe and newt gingrich has got it for the time being, through the holiday season. how does mitt romney get it back in time to get back. >> someone will have to tell him, mitt, you'll have to work for this thing, it's not inevitable. that's the first thing. the second thing is, when you're drawing contrasts with your opponent, they have to be contrasts. you don't attack newt gingrich for being rich or changing his position, if you're the richest
guy in the field and you've changed your positions more than anybody else. and the third, he's counting on the late states now to bail him out. if he says -- >> like the rope adope strategy. >> right. if newt gingrich gets momentum in these first four states and mitt romney's hoping the giuliani strategy of waiting for florida and the later states to save him is going to win this time any better than it did last time, he's crazy. i honestly can't -- >> we'll paint this positively. how does he do it? you give me all the don'ts. >> he literally has to recognize -- he can't send john sununu to go out there and do his dirty work. >> you're saying he has to be aggressive? >> he's got to tell people what newt gingrich is all about. he channels the anger and rage than republicans feel towards president obama better than anybody else in the field, but he can't win. you were saying it while we were talking before the segment, he's got to make that the central focus of this thing. who can beat barack obama? you look at the polls and it's clear newt gingrich can't and mitt romney's very competitive. >> that seems logical. your take on how mitt romney can turn it around and be the front-runner in two or three months now. >> similar to what steve said, i
would boil it down to two things. number one, you've god to do something that he's been unwilling to do this entire year, which is to take the fight directly to his opponent, whether it's bachmann, perry, all of these others have had their 15 minutes of fame, and mitt just sort of stood back and let it all unfold. you're starting to see them do this now, i think, yesterday, he called -- he called gingrich's ideas zany. so they are doing this. the second thing is to gird for the long haul. right now you're seeing this classic battle of intensity versus organization, and the intensity seems to be on newt's side, but newt really has very little organization. if this becomes a protracted slog, if no one can stay white-hot for months and months at a time, that means it does come down to organization very mundane things about, did you file a complete delegate slate in order to be awarded all the delegates that if you would win the state, the romney folks have that stuff down to a science. >> todd, there may not be a long haul. if newt gingrich pops off four
quick victories, mitt romney isn't going to be looking like anybody. not only will he not look inevitable, he may not look viable. >> conversely, from ron paul wins iowa, or does so well there that he takes any wind out of gingrich's sails, you know, right now mitt is still the front-runner in new hampshire, but if gingrich doesn't go into new hampshire with a certain amount of momentum, you know, i think what mitt needs to prepare for is either a quick knockout, which starts with ron paul winning iowa or the long slog. >> let's talk about the possibility of -- the more interesting -- to me, the more compelling case is that newt wins iowa. he then goes on and challenges mitt romney in new hampshire to the point of coming in second, and then kills him in south carolina and goes on and beats him in florida, right? >> that's right. >> the other possibility is that ron paul pulls a big upset by either winning or coming in close second in iowa on the 3rd of january, comes in very well in coming in second to perhaps -- or comes in second to mitt romney up in new hampshire, and then, finally, newt gets his first narrow victory down in south carolina, they all go to florida together and mitt romney
wins there. that's the ideal for him? >> yeah, absolutely. >> and is that still feasible? >> i think -- sure. look at -- i think ron paul's got a real shot in iowa. you know, there's a lot of intensity on -- around gingrich, but paul's got the intensity and the organization. so people ought to be paying a lot of attention. >> here's the guy that i think's getting a little hot right now. it's because this war in iraq's ending, and it's not a popular war, even among republicans. here's a video called "let's goat this done." it's karl rove who heads up the republican pac of american crossroads. it charts a path of republican victory. it starts with a republican nominee winning all the states that mccain won in a bad year of 2008, which are now worth 180 electoral votes. then he wins indiana, north carolina, and virginia. the three outlying states that obama was able to pluck from god knows where. it charts a path of republican victory. it starts with a republican nominee winning all the states that mccain won in a bad year of 2008, which are now worth 180 electoral votes. then he wins indiana, north carolina, and virginia. the three outlying states that obama was able to pluck from god knows where. and then it goes on to the traditionally republican states,
they pick up the close wins, the always -- the deciders all the time, florida and ohio, both of which obama won in 2008, and then they went through, they lost the republicans in 2008. and finally to win, the republican nominee has to win any single one of the swing states you see here in yellow. this just seems to me so obvious. this is so uncreative by rove. all he does is he says we're going to pick up the ones that obama got, pick up the swing states, and pick up a democrat state or two. an eighth grader could have done what rove just did here. what is the originality in this? >> it's not original, but history is repeating itself in this sense. this isn't going to be 2008, where the president wins by 95 electoral votes. it's going to be one of these kinds of races where -- >> where the usual states go the usual ways? >> but what you're looking at now is instead of the democrats needing to a few states in order to be successful, which is what it was 8 or 12 years ago, the shoe's now on the other foo t. ron bronstein wrote a piece about how the democrats have now have some structural advantages, and the republicans on what they're doing on immigration and driving away the hispanic vote is making the structural advantage for democrats even
greater. if the obama campaign is smart and they are, they'll go to virginia and florida they'll say, you can maybe have these, but you'll have to spend $1 billion to get them. and it's going to be very difficult for the republican -- >> give me your mind's eye. suppose newt really cleans up his act and runs almost annize sizen hour campaign or a reagan campaign, and then mitt romney comes and grabs the center right back, therefore the center, how do you win? you have to win ohio, right, and you win florida, your state, right? the normal way? >> look, for republicans to be successful in 2012, we almost have to treat whoever our nominee is, obviously we want to pick the best one, but they're the placeholder. this election is a referendum on barack obama and the obama economy. if we allow the obama campaign
to turn this election into a choice between him and somebody else, it's going to be, i'm not saying we won't win -- >> that's what $1 billion does. >> it's a much harder campaign. i think the rove map makes a lot of sense in an economic referendum kind of election. because you start looking at some of those states that the republican nominee would need to pick up, and like, of ohio, florida, north carolina, these states have terrible unemployment. and so, it's an unfortunate fluke for president obama that so many of the swing states this time around seem to have such higher unemployment rates than the national average. >> can the democrats -- can the republicans win without ohio? >> it starts getting tough.
>> can your state -- can democrats win without pennsylvania? >> no. some of it's traditional. thank you, steve mcmahon. are you betting on newt right now or betting on romney? >> my money's still on romney, but i'm not willing to bet less of it. >> who are you betting on? >> i'm betting on obama. but i think gingrich's going to get it. i didn't mean no about pennsylvania. >> i think gingrich has got the hot hand right now and his timing is unbelievable. and i think he's a great performer and will perform appropriately now. >> he's a brilliant candidate. >> he's not going to jump around there like some jumping bean like he did all those other years. anyway, thank you, steve mcmahon. thank you, todd. have a nice holiday if i don't see you. up next, after nearly nine years, the american war in iraq has ended. that misguided war is officially over, and the big question, what did we really accomplish? it's a fair question and i think a heartfelt one. that's ahead. and this is "hardball," only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] you know why you don't see other full-size pickup trucks straight off the line that can do this? [ engine revs ] because only one can. the ram power wagon. guts. glory. ram.
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[ male announcer ] ask your doctor if cialis for daily use is right for you. for a 30-tablet free trial offer, go to cialis.com. we're back. the war in iraq officially ended today for america, in baghdad, secretary of defense leon panetta thanked the more than 1 million americans, believe it or not, who have served in iraq over the last nine years. let's watch. >> to all of the men and women in uniform today, your nation is deeply indebted to you. your dedication, your commitment to this mission, has been the driving force behind the remarkable progress that we've seen here in baghdad and across this country. this country. >> well, the war was initially justified for some as an effort to rid iraq of weapons of mass destruction. i never believed all these cases, anyway, which of course the country didn't possess in the first place.
about 4,500 americans gave their lives in that effort over there. an additional 32,000 were wounded. the war cost nearly $1 trillion for us. to this day, it's impossible to look at these numbers and not ask the simple question, was it worth it? was it the right war to fight? kimberly dozier covered the war for cbs news. she was severely wounded by a car bomb, an experience she writes about in her book, "breathing the fire: fighting to survive and get back to the fight." she now covers the intelligence community for "the associated press." and bob herbert is a distinguished senior fellow at demos. he was a longtime columnist for "the "new york times."" kimberly, thank you for joining us. i guess, is there any way to answer that question objectively? i look back at the polling that went on at the time we went into the war.
i don't think anyone opposed this war with these sorts of casualties. >> i think you salvage from it? once military commanders were in there, what did they learn from the mistakes we made? the way they tried to solve it with brute force. and learned can't work that way, you've got to work by, with, and through the local population, something that was an old special operations dictum for years. now they're applying that in afghanistan. another lesson they learned was how you catch terror suspects. the way general stan mcchrystal and the intelligence community worked the system to learn to work together and hunt terrorists from hiding spot to the next hiding spot to the next hiding spot, sometimes in a single night, that science is now being used to catch -- hey, it tracked down osama bin laden. it's the way they got anwar al awlaki. so you have to say not was it
worth going in but what did we make of what many people now say was a mistake? >> let's take a look at these statistics from a cbs poll last month. it asked whether the outcome of the war was worth the cost in lives and treasure. a strong majority said no, it was not worth it. look at those numbers. bob, i do remember the polling in the beginning of the war, and it was never for a hawkish position. my question to you is philosophical. i've always taken pride that this country was not an aggressive country. we don't start wars. we defend ourselves. the department of the defense is just that. an institution to defend this country. not in an isolationist way. a thoughtful way. but we're not an aggressive power. this war always looked like to me an invasion of another country that never attacked us, overthrowing the government at our will, using our force, forcing the people of that country at gunpoint to do what we wanted them to do. for many years i considered it an aggressive action. the american people didn't like it. i think there's more to this than just the data. i think it gets down to values, too. what are your thoughts? >> chris, i couldn't agree with
you more. i believe that 100% and said so before we invaded iraq. and that's why -- that's the starting point for everything going so haywire. i think the war was a world-class disaster for the united states, not to mention for iraq, from day one. in addition to 4,500 americans, men and women that we lost, you know, we took our eye off of afghanistan, which is the reason why we stayed in afghanistan for more than a decade, and joe sti stieglitz, the yoeb'nobel prize-winning economist, estimates the war in iraq and afghanistan will cost the u.s. more than $4 trillion when you take in the long-term care, for example, for all the wounded soldiers and marines and the impact on the american deficits. it's just been an immense tragedy and a world-class tragedy i think no matter how you look at it. >> we're looking here at footage
obviously of the american military beginning the process -- or actually carrying out the process of leaving that country. here's senator john mccain with a very different view than the one we just expressed or i just did and bob just did. he's been one of the president's toughest critics on iraq policy. he said president obama should have pushed to keep a residual force in the country for the foreseeable future. keep in mind the timeline for troop withdrawal goes back to an agreement reached with the iraqi government back in 2008. when george w. bush was still in office. however, here was senator mccain yesterday with some very strong words on president obama. >> it is clear that this decision of a complete pullout of the united states troops from iraq was dictated by politics and not our national security interests. i believe that history will judge this president's leadership with the scorn and disdain that it deserves. >> kimberly, i think one of the questions -- i want to go to kimberly first, is this whole
question can we engage in a war and actually end it? the old question of colin powell, can we have an exit strategy? we left. is that in itself a good exercise, being able to leave? >> there was an independent iraqi government that told us to leave. >> that's a good sign. >> so how could we stay? >> i think that's a good point. we have to keep telling senator mccain, we don't own these countries, they tell us when to leave. bob herbert, sir, have a nice vacation. i'm sorry, a nice christmas period coming up. and kimberly, thank you for your service to journalism all these years. and when we return, let me finish with why the republican wisemen want to stop newt with everything they've got. and wise women, i should say. some of the best columnists on the right now are women. center right, that is. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. so i'm glad it's with fidelity. they offer me
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let me finish tonight with this. nothing concentrates the mind like the prospect of a hanging. well, the english poet samuel johnson actually put it this way -- "when a man knows he's to be hanged, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." well, the emerging prospect of newt gingrich as the party's nominee for president late next summer has concentrated the republican mind. to those who have a big stake in winning the election and returning to the white house, to all the power and perks of the presidency, newt gingrich looms as a greater threat than barack obama. top republicans believe the difficult economy offers them a real chance at beating the president. the far harder problem now is beating newt gingrich, who's now riding at the top of the republican polls.
if they can't beat him, the party suddenly looms as the underdog in next fall's race for the presidency. but how do the republican leaders and wise men and wise women free the caucus and primary voter from the killer instinct that's sending them to vote for newt? how do they stop the hard chargers from voting for a guy who promises to do to obama what they most want done to him, attack him, all the while debasing him, doing everything but spit at him? how do they stop the voter from wanting their party's candidate to showing the same hatred toward the president if they the party's thinkers have. if contempt is what the party's leaders and thinkers voice for obama how can they rightly deny their voters the right to have a candidate who does just that? it will be interesting to watch the republican leaders and thinkers find ways in the next several months to measure and modify their words to avoid the anger of the party's base itself. otherwise, they will be condemned to repeat what the party did in